The Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday, the 6th of July 2015, giving the Israeli Ministry of Defence the green light to begin building the separation wall in the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala. This ruling limits the effect of the Court’s previous decision given in April 2015 to stop building the separation wall in Cremisan. In its new decision, the court limited the ban on building the wall to the lands surroundings of the Salesian Sister’s Convents, represented by the Society of St. Yves, and the Salesian Monk’s Monastery, represented by Adv. Nihad Irsheid as well as the monasteries’ agricultural lands. The court ruled that the Israeli authorities can initiate building the wall on the privately owned lands by people from Beit Jala; thereby leaving-out only a small section, hundreds of meters in width and adjacent to the Salesian monasteries and their lands.
The Court’s decision comes after the Israeli Ministry of Defence sent correspondence to the petitioners in late April. In it, they expressed their intention to initiate the building of the separation wall along the eastern section of the planned route, which in effect would mean that the wall will be built on the lands which are privately owned by people from Beit Jala. The Ministry of Defence claimed that the Court's initial decision from last April did not annul the planned route; it has only requested maintaining the geographical connection between the Salesian Convent and Monastery as well as the connection between the Monasteries and the local community. In other words, the Ministry of Defence has interpreted the decision in a narrow manner, limiting the cessation of the building of the wall to the area around the Monasteries and their lands.
Following that correspondence, Adv. Ghiath Nasser who represents the Municipality of Beit Jala and the land owners, submitted an application to the Supreme Court alleging the contempt of the Court’s decision while requesting the court to issue an injunction preventing the building of the wall. He further pointed that the Ministry of Defence’s plans are contempt to the Court and its decision. Both St. Yves and Adv. Nihad Ershid supported this request. However in its decision last Monday, the Israeli Supreme Court adopted the narrow interpretation put forward by the Ministry of Defence, thereby rejecting the petitioner’s request. The Court further affirmed that building that section of the wall does not contradict the Court's decision from April. This is because in that decision, the prohibition on building only referred to the section that is adjacent to the Monasteries.
Last April, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a final decision rejecting the planned route of the wall in the Cremisan Valley. The Court indicated that the route suggested by Israeli Ministry of Defence greatly harms and violates the rights of both the local community and the Monasteries. The Court demanded the Israeli Ministry of Defence to put forward new alternatives which would reduce the damage caused by building the wall. The judges further stressed the importance of having the Monasteries on the Palestinian side of the wall and maintaining the geographical connection between themselves as well as between the Monasteries and the communities they serve.
St. Yves condemns the Supreme Court's decision issued last Monday, which adopts the position of the Israeli Ministry of Defence and which gives the green light to start building the wall according to the initial plans. St. Yves stresses that the Court's decision will create facts on the ground that will cause severe damage to the Monasteries, the locals and the land owners in the Cremisan Valley. This completely contradicts the Court’s initial decision ordering the state to consider alternatives that would be less harmful. St. Yves reaffirms its position on the illegality of the wall under international law as provided for in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and warns that building the wall severely violates the basic rights and freedoms of Palestinians.
Adv. Ghiath Nasser, who represents the Municipality and the private land owners of Beit Jala, pointed that the recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court will not be the end of the legal battle against the wall in the Cremisan Valley. He indicated that the Court did not make a final decision on the claims put forward by the people of Beit Jala regarding the massive damage that building the wall will have on their lands. Adv. Nasser intends to submit a new petition to the Israeli Supreme Court in the few coming days requesting it to consider the claims of his clients and to make a final decision on the matter.
A translated version of the Court decision can be downloaded here...
For further information, please contact:
Rafat Sub Laban
Legal Research and Advocacy Officer
02 626 4662